Friends 'till the end. That's what we called
ourselves. There were four of us. We stuck together through thick and thin.
We all met in kindergarten and have been the best of friends ever since. If you
saw one of us, the other three were never far behind.
There was Paul. Good old Paul, always
in trouble. You could tell by looking at him, that trouble followed wherever he
went. He didn't fight, or do drugs or anything like that. No, Paul was best at
burping loud in the library, or making faces at the principal behind his back,
and getting caught. Y'know, good, clean, trouble. One time in the school
cafeteria, he stuck two olives up his nostrils and couldn't get them out, so he
had to go to the nurses office. That was Paul. He was always there when you
needed him. When one of the other three of us got in trouble, we always knew it
could have been worse, just by looking at Paul.
Then there was Zeke. Zeke was the
kind of person that everyone wishes they could be like. He was smart, and
happy, and good hearted. He was from a Christian family and they were just
plain wholesome. Zeke never complained about anything, and if anyone else did,
he always had the perfect thing to say that would really make a person think.
He knew the answers to "What Would Jesus Do?" about almost anything. If anyone
didn't like Zeke, it was because they were just plain jealous of him.
Then you have Jerry. Jerry was
spoiled rotten, but he never acted like it. He had everything a kid could want,
and it seemed like he didn't want it. I never could figure out what it actually
was that Jerry wanted, but he always seemed a little bit empty inside for some
reason. He came from a good Christian family, too. But something about Jerry
was sort of sad. Kind of like he wanted to know something, but didn't know
what. Sometimes he would just stare off into space, like he was daydreaming,
but if you asked him what he was thinking about, he'd just blink his eyes, shake
his head back to reality and say, "I dunno." He was just being, Jerry, and we
all accepted each other, just as we were. We didn't try and change each other.
We were pals.
And, last but not least, there's me.
I'm just your average kid, living your average kid's life. I'm not smarter than
the next kid, or dumber than anyone else. I'm a believer, but I'm kinda quiet
about it. There's a lot of people like me. We just think that we're here for a
reason, we don't know why, but we're certain God knows and we're gonna live our
lives the best we can, have as much fun as we can, and then someday, we're going
to die and go to heaven. Period.
It's not quite going the way I
planned. It's not going the way Jerry or Zeke or Paul planned either. Our
motto was friends 'till the end, but we never thought the end would be so soon.
I guess I always knew that someday the
world would come to an end. I mean, everything that has a beginning, has an
end, right? I just didn't expect it to be in MY lifetime. Really, how many
times have people said the end of the world is coming? Thousands? More? Even
the little red hen. "The sky is falling, the sky is falling!" We used to call
it "doomsday" when I was a little kid. It was always something, that with just
the mention of it, sort of made you a little ... respectful. It was always just
so hard to believe that it would actually happen. It's one of those things that
you think is so unlikely, it couldn't possibly be ... now.
Well, needless to say, I was wrong.
You know, I wish I had paid attention in history class, I wish I had read my
Bible more, and I wish I was more serious about the things there were to learn
in Boy Scouts. I just might be more prepared. Shoulda, woulda, coulda, it
doesn't matter now. It's time, whether I like it, or not.
This isn't the kind of story that
starts with a place on a beautiful grassy hillside with a trickling brook at the
bottom, blue skies with pure white puffy clouds and a breeze gently waving
through the trees that someone is sitting under. This is ... IT! THE END!
started all of a sudden. There was lightning and thunder and what sounded like
voices. The earth was shaking. I didn't know what was going on. Something
fell from the sky, but I don't know what it was. Maybe it was a meteor, or an
asteroid or a nuclear bomb, but then there was fire. The trees all burnt up.
And all the grass, it wasn't green anymore. It wasn't THERE anymore! That was
just the beginning.
Well, not really. Let me start at the
beginning of the end. I can see that the signs have been slowly happening for a
while now. So slowly, in fact, that I never even noticed. You bet that if I
had read my Bible more I might have noticed. It's all unfolding, just exactly
like it says.
There have been many people who have
claimed to be the Messiah (That means they think they are Jesus). Jim Jones and
Charles Manson, just to name a couple.
Then, there are the wars. Oh, my,
World War I, World War II, The Korean War, Hiroshima, Israel, Viet Nam, Granada,
the Persian Gulf ... did I forget a couple, dozen?
In the 1900's alone, there were over
100 earthquakes. Since 2000 there have been over 300 already! That's three
times as many in five years as there was in the past century! Not to mention
the tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes, blizzards, floods, tidal waves and ...
TSUNAMI's. Now there's something we never even heard of before. Now, everyone
knows what a tsunami is.
The vanishing ozone layer is something
people thought was a bunch of nonsense, but it looks like it makes perfect sense
when you read what the Bible says about things happening in the sky.
Diseases spelled with more letters
than I could count on two hands and some that are named with letters because
their real names are so long, are things that I thought only future generations
would have to worry about. Way far in the future. Boy, was I wrong.
I can't believe people didn't see it
coming. Jesus said it so clearly. Oh, I used to worry about what people would
think or call me if I talked about Jesus. Not anymore. He warned us. We just
didn't think it would happen to us. Just take a look at what Jesus said about
LUKE 21:25-26 And there shall be signs in
the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of
nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing
them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth:
for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.
Call me a Jesus freak if you want to.
He was right. As right as rain. Bingo. Bulls eye. Hit the nail on the head.
Whatever you want to call it, (I like to call it truth) I am on His team.
Like I said, this place isn't exactly
like what you read about in storybooks. I can't describe it too well for you.
Not because I don't know how, but because there are people looking for us. Bad
people. A lot of people think these bad people are good, but they're not. They
keep talking about peace. They really want to kill us, because we believe in
Jesus. Who are they? They're called by the names satan, antichrist and the
false prophet and all the people that work for them.
I can tell you this much. We're in
the wilderness, and we're in a cave. Who's we? Me, and Paul and Jerry ... and
a lot of other Christians. Let me start, one more time. We were riding our
bikes, and all of a sudden, Zeke disappeared. There was his bike, just rolling
along with us until it slowed down slow enough to fall. We all stopped, with
our eyes bugging out, and none of us could even talk for a few minutes. Poof!
Now you see him, now you don't. He just vanished!
We didn't know what to do, so we
thought we'd better go tell his Mom and Dad, but while we were on our way to his
house, we found out that Zeke wasn't the only one who disappeared. As a matter
of fact it looked like half the people on the planet were missing. There were
accidents everywhere. People were crying and others were hurt. There were
sirens going off everywhere. Then we heard some people talking about the
Heck, I didn't even know what Rapture
meant. We found out later, Rapture is when Jesus takes you up to heaven, if
you're chosen, when the end of the world is really coming. No wonder Zeke was
chosen. Zeke was never afraid to talk about Jesus. In fact, he was proud to.
He was good, through and through. When we got to Zeke's house, there was nobody
home. I think Jesus chose to take them all.
So that left the three of us. Paul,
Jerry, and me. Paul was spending the weekend with Jerry because his Mom and Dad
were out of town. We went to my house after Zeke's, but my Mom and Dad weren't
there. We looked everywhere for them. They were there when I left and they
didn't say anything about going anywhere while I was gone.
I couldn't believe it when our next
door neighbor knocked at the door and said she was talking to my Mom and Dad out
on the porch and in the blink of an eye, they were just, gone! My face grew
white. I could feel all the blood in it, just up and leave. I thought I was
gonna pass out, but Jerry grabbed my arm and sat down with me on the step. Paul
said he was sure that his Mom and Dad would adopt me. I was troubled, and
looking at Paul couldn't even make me feel better.
It took me a while to get used to the
idea that my parents were really gone with Jesus and I was still here. I just
wasn't ready for this at all. Once the blood decided to return to my face, we
all hopped on our bikes and rode over to Jerry's house.
Jerry's Mom hugged him so
tightly I thought Jerry might suffocate. Jerry's
Dad found out that the cruise ship that Paul's Mom and Dad were on wouldn't be
coming back any time soon so he said that both of us could staying with Jerry's
family for a while. I remember wondering why Jerry's Mom and Dad weren't
chosen, or why WE weren't, but before I had too much time to think about it, we
were all on our way to the wilderness, and the cave.
You're probably wondering why we went
to a cave in the wilderness. Well, in the Bible, it says that during the End
Times (that's what the last 7 years before the end of the world is called), that
God will take care of believing Christians in the wilderness for 3½ years.
We've been here for quite a while
now. It was really tough at first to get used to some things. There's a lot of
things you don't think about, until it happens to you. Like when the power goes
out during a storm, THEN, you think about what it would be like to live without
electricity. Or when the water is turned off to fix a pipe, THEN, you think
about what it would be like to live without running water. But once the
electric or water is turned back on, you soon forget about it and life goes on.
The thing that was hardest for me to get used to was living without my Mom and
It took weeks before I stopped
believing that they would be coming back. It wasn't until Jerry's Dad explained
to me that I should be so happy for them, that they were chosen to go with
Jesus, and I should be happy for myself too, because if you're a Christian and
you're still here, it might mean that Jesus has an important job for you to do,
like helping someone who hasn't accepted Jesus as their savior, to learn the
truth and be able to go to heaven. When I heard that, I felt so much better.
Here's what a regular day is like for
us here. We wake up in the morning and check to make sure the campfire is still
burning. If it is, add dry wood that doesn't make it smoke so that none of the
bad guys can find you. If the fire died out overnight, start a new one. Good
luck, because you don't have a lighter, lighter fluid or matches. If the sun is
shining, a magnifying glass is your best friend. If the sun isn't shining,
you'd better start rubbing two sticks together, just like you saw on the old
Breakfast is something that one of the
adults hunted for. Maybe fish. Yum. Fish for breakfast. Lunch and supper are
a little easier to like because for some reason your taste buds do not agree
with fish that early in the day. If you're a fussy eater, you will go hungry
There are chores to be done. Fresh
water must be carried from the stream, but it must be checked by an adult to
make sure it isn't poisoned. Everyone washes their own clothes and dishes if
you made some out of wood or something else around the campsite. You have to be
kind of quiet all the time. Life is really different here. But I'm glad I'm
I'm getting to know someone real well
on this adventure. I'd like to tell you about him. His name is John. He lived
a long, long time ago and he knew Jesus. They hung out together a lot. He
wrote this book that I've been reading. I've never been much of a reader. If
the story isn't super interesting right from the get go, it's like reading the
dictionary. BORING. But not the things that John wrote. Even though I read
John's book once before, I thought I'd give it another shot, since I'm a little
older now and I understand things a little better. You can read something a
second time, and catch on to so many things that you didn't get the first time
you read it.
See, when Jesus was alive, John was
one of His apostles. But when John was a lot older, he was a prisoner. The
Romans ruled a lot of the world back then and they didn't like it that John was
spreading the news of Jesus to people, so they shipped him off to a place called
Patmos Island. There was sort of a prison there. It was probably a lot like
the cave I'm in now.
Now, you have to imagine being John.
You have met Jesus. You heard Him tell the secrets of life. You ate with Him,
drank with Him, traveled with Him, watched Him do miracles. People walked who
couldn't walk, people who were blind, saw, people who couldn't hear, heard, just
because they believed in your best friend. You heard Him tell the Jewish people
that the reason He was there was because they broke their promise to God. All
they had to do, was follow His commandments. A lot of times they turned their
backs on God and didn't keep their word . . . or His. So, being the merciful,
ever loving God that He is, He sent His Son to make a new promise. Now, all
they had to do was believe in Jesus.
John saw it all. Yep, he had a front
row seat. All the way up to the Jews hanging his best friend, the Son of God,
on a cross, because He claimed to be, who He really was. Three days after they
took his beloved friend Jesus down off the cross and buried Him, He came back to
life and told His apostles and disciples to preach the gospel (the truth) to the
whole world. Jesus spent 40 days on earth again after He rose from the dead,
teaching the fellas how to spread the Good News of God's new promise, and
introducing them to the Holy Spirit, who he left here to help Christians and
then God took Jesus up to heaven.
Now, here comes the part that made me
want to get to know John better. While John was on that island, Jesus sent John
a vision. That means, John saw things that Jesus wanted him to see, kinda like
a dream, only the things that Jesus showed him are really going to come true one
day. They are right now.
Jesus told John to write these things that would happen at the end of time, in a
book so people would be ready when the End Times got here. There was just one
little problem. The Romans who already didn't like John and put him in prison
for teaching about Jesus, REALLY wouldn't like what Jesus told John to write.
John loved Jesus so much, he just had to get the message out, so, John had to
use his imagination, and write what Jesus told him so that Christians would
understand it, but the Romans wouldn't.
Good old John. He had his work cut
out for him. The book that he wrote is called The Revelation. When I read it
the first time, I thought it was just a scary story with lots of make believe
creatures and horror, like at the movies. Now I know that those creatures are
real symbols for certain nations and people and the devil, and the horror that
John describes isn't science fiction, it's what's really happening! It's called
the Great Tribulation.
The cool thing is that if you are a
true Christian believer, God will take care of you in the wilderness for 3½
years while all those things that Jesus told John about are happening. And
that's why I'm glad I'm here, because I am a believer and I wouldn't want
anybody but God taking care of me.
I've learned a lot of things since
I've been here. The bad people who I told you about earlier, have a mark that
they want you to take. They put it in your right hand or in your forehead.
They won't let you buy or sell anything if you don't have it, but if you take
it, then you belong to the devil and you won't go to heaven. I'd rather starve
than belong to the devil. He wants to own everyone in the world. He won't own
It's a funny thing. I look around at
all the people who are here in the cave. Some people used to be very important
people to the world. Some were lawyers, doctors, business people, and some are
just regular folks like me, only adults. Well everyone is pretty much the same
now. God doesn't care if you're a big shot, or just a little person. It's what
is in your heart that counts to Him.
You can see the people who used to be
important, they think a lot. When we first got here, they talked a lot, like
they still wanted to be as important as their old jobs made them think they
were. Like the Bible says, at the end, people will be eating and drinking and
buying and selling and planting and building, just as if the world is gonna go
on forever. I know those same people are now thinking that they wasted all
their life trying to be important in a way that wasn't important to God.
God takes good care of us out here.
Just when it seems like there won't be enough food, or firewood or water,
something happens and it all works out fine. It always reminds me of the story
where Jesus fed thousands of people with just a few fish and a few loaves of
bread, and there was still leftovers.
I pray a lot now. I didn't used to.
When we first got here, I thought I was going to die of boredom, but there was
more to learn and do than I thought. We made a sun dial, because there aren't
any clocks. We play games with rocks, like you would with marbles, and
sometimes it's more fun than video games. There isn't a TV or radio. There
aren't computers or refrigerators or microwaves. It's the wilderness.
Sometimes people have gone to get
things for us. I don't know how they get them because nobody here has the mark,
but they come back with different kinds of things every time. Some people just
couldn't take it here, and after a while, they went back and took the mark, just
so they could eat more or buy cigarettes or something. I'll never take the
mark, no matter what. They'll be sorry.
Jerry doesn't like it here. He's
always fighting with his Mom and Dad and never wants to do any work. He sure
acts spoiled now. Now that he can't have things, he wants everything. I tried
to talk to him but he keeps telling me he just wasn't cut out for this kind of
living. I explained to him that it will all be worth it in the end, but he
won't believe it. He stares off into space more than ever now. I pray that he
doesn't leave and take the mark.
Paul is a different story. His Mom
and Dad were almost never home before the End Times began. He was always either
home alone or spending the night or weekend somewhere. Even though people
thought he was going to be trouble here, he surprised them. He was just so
scared because things were so weird the day that Zeke disappeared, that he
didn't know what else to do.
I've known Paul all my life, and even
though sometimes he was rowdy, he has a good heart. I don't think Paul even
believed in Jesus when we first got here, but he's definitely a Christian now.
Maybe Paul is the one that Jerry's Dad was talking about, because we've spent a
lot of time together just talking since all of this started and Paul is like a
different person. He sure knows how to fend for himself and he loves to work
around the cave and the camp.
Neither one of us had seen our parents
for a while now so we kind of felt like we were supposed to stick together.
Paul started reading the Bible with me more and more and we've learned more
since we've been here, than we had in all our years of school put together.
Paul even teaches some of the younger kids Bible stories every afternoon to give
the parents time to rest or do work that they can't do with the little ones
under foot. I had to stop him once from putting rocks in his nostrils to make
them laugh, but he'll be alright.
Lots of people are still out there
without the mark, but didn't make it to the wilderness either. Some will die
because of their belief in Jesus, but they will go to heaven. The people who
don't ask forgiveness for their sins, will go to a place called the Lake of
Jerry just told me a little while ago
that he's going to leave and take the mark. Paul and I tried everything to
change his mind, but he just doesn't want to listen. When I showed him the part
in the Bible about the Lake of Fire, he just rolled his eyes at me and walked
away. His Mom and Dad and Jesus are going to be so sad. I'll pray about it
even more. God gives all of us the chance to choose. I hope Jerry will choose
God said that His people will be
tested. I think that's because He wants to be sure that His angels will not
trade Him for anything. That's why He sent the Great Flood in Noah's time, is
because a bunch of the angels traded being in Heaven with God to come down to
the earth and be bad. And satan, well, satan was God's perfect angel, once upon
a time. But then, he decided he wanted to be better than God. He's so jealous
of God, that he goes around the world doing everything he can to try and win
people's souls from God.
The wilderness is a really good test.
People think they are really strong, and they can really make you believe it
with their words, but will they do anything for God? When Moses led God's
people through the wilderness, it was for 40 years. They disappointed God many
times. I'm not going to disappoint Him. Whoever believes in Jesus through the
End Times and doesn't take the mark, gets to live forever with Him and God. I
think 3½ years isn't a long time at all compared to forever.
The Bible says that we can't even
imagine the great things that God has prepared for those who love Him. That is
the thing that Jerry is missing. He wants something out of life, but he doesn't
know what it is. That's because what he wants is what God has prepared for him,
but he can't get it until he proves that he would do anything for God.
Jerry is one of God's sheep. He is just lost. Paul and I have to go
talk to him again before he makes a choice that he will be sorry for, forever.
Jerry is my friend. Friends 'till the end. What would Jesus do?
I will never give up. Zeke taught me that.